Intentional Exercise for Children
As we all know, children have a lot of energy. When they don't get enough physical activity through play or intentional exercise, that pent-up energy can result in tantrums and other behavioral issues.
Physical activity is about much more than controlling energy levels though! There are also many developmental benefits! Exercise helps develop stronger bones, increases metabolism and improves cardiovascular health. Exercise also plays a critical role in preventing children from developing health concerns later in life, such as type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Children often get most of their exercise by playing at recess or participating in sports. However, it is important for children to take part in intentional exercise to develop muscles that play does not always accomplish.
The CDC recommends children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 complete 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day. To help children achieve muscle-specific exercise, intentional workouts are needed to pinpoint the areas they are developing through planned training. An intentional workout includes defined exercises in stretching, aerobics and strength training.
Making stretching a part of your child's exercise routine is important because it gets their muscles and bodies warmed up, reduces the risk of muscle injury and helps increase flexibility.
Stretching is divided between static and dynamic stretches. Static stretches are achieved through holding a position for a period of time – around 30 to 45 seconds.
Dynamic stretches are achieved through controlled movements that help prepare your child's muscles for exercise. While both forms of stretching are beneficial, dynamic stretching is more effective at reducing muscle tightness.
Here are some easy, dynamic and static stretches your child can do while at home or at play:
Hamstring Curls with Opposite Arm Raise
Aerobic exercise is critical for children to develop their muscles and improve their heart and lung health. Here are some easy aerobic exercises for kids:
Seated March with Arm Swing
Seated Jump Rope
Elbow to Knee
Core Strength Training
Poor core strength can result in unhealthy posture and can negatively affect balance and fine motor skills. Here are some simple exercises to help develop your child's core strength:
Stability Ball Walk Out
Not to be confused with the weight training adults participate in, strength training in children is achieved without weights and with a focus on controlled movements. Children's muscles are constantly growing as they age and putting too much strain on them through weightlifting negatively impacts their muscle development.
Proper strength training develops children's muscle strength and endurance. It also helps prevent injuries and shortens the time needed to heal if your child does get injured. Some simple strength exercises for your child are:
Bent Knee Push-Ups